Delivering the DofE: FAQs for DofE adults

We recognise that this is a worrying time and you may be concerned about how the coronavirus outbreak will affect your participants’ DofE.

The health of everyone involved with the DofE is the most important thing to us and parents and LOs should feel comfortable taking their own measures at this time.

We will make sure that we use all the flexibility inherent in the DofE programme so young people can continue doing their programmes and have the opportunity to achieve their Awards.

How can I make sure I communicate safely with my DofE participants on digital platforms, one-to-one and in groups?

Adapting to a virtual environment comes with challenges – but technology can also bring huge benefits when supporting young people in these uncertain times.

It can have a hugely positive effect on their mental health, helping them feel connected to others, maintain some sense of normality and access support when needed.

It’s crucial anyone communicating with young people to support their DofE at this time operates under best practice guidelines and makes sure young people’s safety and wellbeing is the priority at all time.

To help you do this, we have developed a practical guide for remote mentoring relationships, in partnership with The Diana Award and The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. Please read and share this with any colleagues who may find it useful.

Your organisation will have its own digital safeguarding guidelines which you should follow as always – this guide is intended to supplement these existing policies, rather than to replace them.

Have there been any programme changes to accommodate for the impact of the coronavirus?

Whilst the inherent flexibility within the DofE programme enables many young people to continue their DofE programmes during this time, there have been a number of temporary programme changes made to support you and your participants both now and when lockdown ends. Click here for more information on the changes made. 

What advice is the DofE giving about coronavirus?

Since the coronavirus outbreak started, the health of everyone involved in the DofE has been, and remains, the most important thing to us and must be the primary consideration of the DofE network. 

We urge everyone involved in running the DofE, our participants, parents and carers to continue to monitor and follow Government advice. All DofE Managers, Leaders and other adult volunteers should also follow any policies and procedures governing their own organisation’s response to COVID-19. 

It’s clear the effects of the pandemic will be long-lasting – and we want to support our Licensed Organisations to recognise young people’s achievements and help as many as possible achieve their Award. You can read more about the initiatives and flexibilities we’ve introduced, and find practical advice, activity ideas and information on our DofE With A Difference hub. 

Is the DofE charity still working as normal?

Yes, very much so. Of course, we’ve had to quickly adapt how we do some things in order to reflect the current situation. But we’re determined that young people shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to achieve their Award because of coronavirus.

Our staff will continue to support Licensed Organisations, Approved Activity Providers and other partners to carry on delivering the programme in a different way over the next year. Our Operations Officers will stay in close contact with all DofE Managers to talk about how we can help them to support participants at this difficult time.

One of my participants (or their parent / carer) is particularly concerned about doing their DofE activities as they’re worried they’ll get the virus. What should I tell them?

Everyone needs to follow Government advice with regard to managing the spread of the virus and their own health. The Government’s coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage is frequently updated as things develop, so please check it regularly. The NHS advice is also frequently updated.

There are lots of ways in which participants can carry on with their DofE programmes while at home – click here for more details.

Should I cancel or postpone upcoming activities, like group meetings, expeditions or residentials?

All Licensed Organisations (LOs) and Approved Activity Providers (AAPs) should continue to follow the latest Government advice during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as any policies and procedures they have introduced in response to the outbreak. 

Group meetings can continue to take place virtually. Lots of Leaders have been putting steps in place to help their participants to carry on doing their DofE programmes remotely and organising group meetings online. The DofE, together with The Diana Award and The International Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, has produced ae-mentoring guide to help with this, with practical advice for remote mentoring and supporting young people on digital platforms. 

While young people, with Leaders’ support, have been continuing their Skills, Volunteering and Physical section activities, it’s clear that COVID-19 will have a longer-lasting effect on expeditions and residentials.  

We’ve introduced a range of temporary changes for the Expedition section – click here for more details.

There are lots of way in which participants can carry on with other activities which can count towards their DofE programmes while at home – click here for more details. 

Should LOs plan to deliver DofE expeditions later this year?

It’s clear that the long-lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may mean LOs face barriers in delivering ‘traditional’ expeditions for some time.

For young people who might not have a chance to do their expedition (and/or residential at Gold level) over the next year, we have introduced the DofE Certificate of Achievement, to formally recognise the achievements of those who complete their Skills, Volunteering and Physical sections.

However, we know lots of participants will want to go on to do their expedition and achieve their Award. To help, we’ve introduced a number of temporary changes to our expedition requirements, and outlined different potential approaches to suit LOs’ circumstances.

Temporary changes include the relaxing of normal terrain requirements, more flexibility around where young people can spend the night and allowing participants who haven’t done their expeditions the chance to progress to the next level, without losing the chance to achieve their previous Award. You can find more detailed information in our expedition changes Q&As.

We hope these will support LOs to run ‘expeditions with a difference’ when Government guidelines allow, delivering the same outcomes and benefits as ‘traditional’ expeditions, and allowing as many young people as possible to complete their programmes..

If you’d like support to create a tailored plan for your organisation, your local Operations Team is on hand to help.

Some Gold participants are unlikely to be able to do their practice expedition due to the coronavirus outbreak. Can they just do their qualifying expedition and still achieve their Award?

At Gold and Silver levels, practice expeditions are an important part of the preparation and training participants carry out to ensure that they can undertake a safe and enjoyable remotely supervised expedition. For that reason, all Gold and Silver participants will still have to do both a practice and qualifying expedition.

We’ve made a number of temporary rule changes to help LOs and AAPs to run expeditions to support 2020’s new cohort of participants and those young people whose expeditions have been delayed – click here for more details.

What happens if I’m ill and I can’t lead my DofE group remotely?

Your health is the most important thing and you must make sure that you follow all of the advice being issued by the Government.

As a DofE Leader, you’ll be aware of what plans your Licensed Organisation has in place to deal with your absence – inform your LO so that these plans can be actioned.


Some participants want to change their activities to ones they can do on their own / at home. Is this ok?

Yes, this is fine. DofE programmes allow young people to change from one activity to another at any point. In these unique circumstances, it’s likely that many participants will choose to do this, and we’re sharing ideas on how young people can safely carry on with elements of their DofE programme here.

Participants will need to seek approval from their Leader before starting their new activities.

Do you have any suggestions for activities young people can do on their own / remotely?

Yes. We’re sharing activity ideas here. If there are ideas that are working particularly well for participants in your community, please do share them with your DofE Operations Officer and via social media using the hashtag #DofEwithadifference.

One of my participants is turning 25 soon and is concerned they won’t complete their programme in time because of the outbreak. Can they be given an extension?

Yes. Under existing DofE rules, participants can be granted a period of time in which to complete their DofE after their 25th birthday if they need it because of illness or other circumstances. Leaders should feel empowered to grant such extensions to participants affected by coronavirus immediately and can get an extension granted in eDofE by contacting the relevant DofE Region or Country Office.

If one of my participants is diagnosed with the coronavirus after taking part in a DofE activity, should I tell the DofE?

No, there is no need to notify the DofE should a participant be diagnosed with coronavirus. However, tell your Licensed Organisation so that appropriate steps can be put in place to manage the situation.

Can I still purchase Welcome Packs and allocate the accompanying participation places as usual?

Yes, you can still buy Welcome Packs in eDofE and allocate the accompanying participation places to young people as always.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact on the lives of young people, affecting their studies, social lives, work and future prospects. Doing a DofE programme can give them structure, focus and purpose that are vital for their mental and physical wellbeing.

Welcome Packs are still being despatched every two weeks to participants who enter their personal details on eDofE for the first time, or start a new Award level.

As ever, digital copies of Welcome Pack contents are available for download. Young people and Leaders can also download their Digital DofE Card from eDofE or the DofE app.

A participant in my group has chosen or changed to an activity that they would like to do for one day a month, rather than one hour a week. Is this allowed?

Although activities for all levels are normally done for one hour per week (and in the current circumstances this may help with establishing routine), there are some activities which better completed by doing them for a longer time per session, but less often. This could be one day a month, or a couple of hours every other week.

The activity must still be spread across the number of months the participant has chosen to spend on that section, and the hours must be at least the same as doing it weekly (or more!)

For example, with prior agreement from their DofE Leader, a participant doing a six month Volunteering section for Silver starting in April 2020 could request to do a minimum of a day each month (at least four to six hours) until their earliest completion date – which in this case would be October 2020.

If I have DofE participants in my school who are due to leave this summer, can they still complete their expedition with us next year?

In order to enable participants to complete their Expedition section (and their Award), you might like to consider running expeditions over the next academic year that include pupils who were in Years 11 or 13 – or S4, S5 and S6 in Scotland – but have since left the school. Schools do not require an AALA licence if a school leaver is joining them for a postponed expedition either in the autumn or next summer. Before you go ahead, you would need to check the following;

– Confirm with your Head Teacher / Licence signatory (if DLC) or DofE Manager and Licence Signatory (if OA) that young people no longer on the school roll would be covered by your insurance provider for DofE expeditions.

– Confirm with your Head Teacher / Licence signatory (if DLC) or DofE Manager and Licence Signatory (if OA) that there are no implications around safeguarding for your organisation if young people not on roll are integrated with those remaining on roll.

– That a fair process is in place ensuring that they would access the expedition under the same terms as your current participants.

– Your licence requests that you have the permission from the Region/Country Director. The DofE would support this variation to your licence but we would ask that you notify the Regional/Country Office in advance for our records. Be aware that this would only apply to pupils who used to be on your school roll. You couldn’t include pupils from another school/college.

If they choose to, there are many other options open to participants who would like to continue their DofE and achieve their Award in the future. They can participate at their college or university, an open centre, a youth organisation such as the Scouts or Girlguiding or through work, if their employer offers the DofE. If they are aged 18-23, they can also do their Gold DofE online and independently through DofE Direct.

As a DofE Leader, how do I evidence any temporary changes we have used?

We’ve put together eDofE guidance on allowing participants to proceed as non-direct entrants at the next level and on evidencing expedition changes.

One of my participants has chosen to volunteer for a family member. If their Volunteering section finishes after the temporary changes end date of 31 July 2021, will they need to change their activity?

Possibly – it’s at your discretion whether the participant should change their Volunteering section activity. We suggest you and the participant consider whether the activity and goal will continue to deliver the intended outcomes of the section as well as the impact of other factors, such as how long the participant has left to complete the section and which Award level they’re doing.

The decision should be clearly communicated in the Assessor’s Report for the benefit of the Award Verifier.